Self-Service BI and the Future of Your Business

ART02x - feature image - EDSuccessful business intelligence (BI) results flow from efficient data collection techniques combined with self-service BI. These fast and accessible tools can provide sustained business advantages over the long term. Corporate responsibility practices are climbing higher on the list of business priorities. Companies can’t wait for the next great innovation to fall across their desks. Sustaining competitive advantages over the long term means that data analytics must be a permanent and constant business fixture to maintain a competitive edge.

Business Goals

Even vital objectives run the spectrum from simple and cheap to complex and costly. Aggressive or public goals generally provide more gains, but involve greater risk. To sustain profitability, it must be driven by improving processes through analysis. The analysis must be measurable and meaningful. To make this possible on a regular basis, the data systems in use must involve automated data collection, access to near real-time reporting, and accessibility to data-driven staff. Self-service BI tools meet the need on all three counts.

Better Understanding

Achieving a sustainable business future today requires finding processes where wasted time and resources can be reduced while increasing productivity. Business leaders must always be mindful of the cost-vs-benefit ratio. Simultaneously, regulatory compliance, taxes, insurance, and other administrative concerns present data-intensive obligations.

Tracking success over the long term requires metrics that quantify the value of initiatives toward the company’s future. Without self-service BI tools, business leaders don’t get real-time measurement or a cohesive picture.

With dozens of locations and thousands of products, properly gathering and loading data isn’t easy; all too often companies take shortcuts to save time or streamline processes. But if that results in bad or missing data, it severely limits the value obtained from your data store. However, timely and relevant data helps to improve efficiency as well as customer satisfaction.

BI Flexibility

Businesses can identify and monitor their key performance indicators when supplied with real-time, measurable information. But the cause and effect relationship between measurement and action can be confused. Data is of little value if it can’t be applied to current real-world issues. Many companies tend to use their data to support or document current plans rather than to gain actionable insights.

That’s the value in self-service BI tools. User friendly interfaces allow multiple stakeholders to more easily analyze large data sets. Users can find answers to their own specific problems. They can share their conclusions and take responsibility for them.

Traditional BI tools were dependent on considerable IT support and guidance. Trained analysts were often required to craft data mining techniques and organize large amounts of data into specific conclusions. Casual users needing answers from the company data were obliged to submit requests and wait on a response over which they had no control. However, today’s self service BI provides hands-on data analysis for hundreds of different business users and needs. IT only has to set up the initial system and let workers develop their own data projects.

There are some good reasons why self-service BI is being adopted by more companies not just as a data tool, but as an application that promotes sustainability. One reason is faster processing: Web-based interfaces in SSBI tools allow centralized access, but data is loaded directly into random access memory (RAM) so that analysis is completed faster, without any need for external resources or technical assistance.

Sustainability

Better visualizations: Infographic displays of data such as graphs or charts represent a form of a “data story” that’s easier to understand and relate to. For companies utilizing BI on various projects, visualizations are the answer to cutting through the noise of explanations and corroborative facts. Everyone is using the same trusted data repository, but individuals are able to communicate their findings with little to no wasted time or effort.

More collaboration: Before decisions are made, analyses typically require discussion from stakeholders in a range of departments or business functions as well as executives. But centralized data stores, web-based architectures, and other features of modern self-service BI tools make collaboration easy and automatic. Analytic results can be easily shared, annotated, and verified.

Data-Minded Futures

Supplied with accurate information and highly productive self-service BI, business intelligence has shifted from being problem or project-oriented to a proactive strategy of effective management. In fact, executives are beginning to pressure data-minded staff to employ these tools in regular programs for monitoring and documenting progress of a range of business needs. Staff are increasingly focused on quantifying actions and demonstrating their value to the company in irrefutable terms.

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About Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.

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